Baby Gorilla Born by Rare Cesarean at British Zoo

Baby Gorilla Bristol UK
The female western lowland gorilla was born at Bristol zoo after a cesarean operation, a procedure only used several times on animals. Bristol Zoo Gardens

A baby western lowland gorilla is now able to "breathe independently" and is "doing well" after being born in a rare Cesarean operation, Bristol Zoo said on Tuesday.

David Cahill, professor in reproductive medicine at Bristol University, delivered the gorilla after its mother Kera showed symptoms of "life-threatening pre-eclampsia." The baby, which is yet to be named, weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

The zoo in southwest England said that the baby gorilla will not be on show to the public any time soon. Kera is now being monitored by a small team of experienced gorilla keepers and the zoo's in-house veterinary team.

"The birth of any gorilla is a rare and exciting event; but the birth of a baby gorilla by Cesarean section is even more unusual," said senior curator of the zoo's animals, John Partridge.

"It wasn't a decision that we took lightly—Kera was becoming quite poorly and we needed to act fast in order to give the best possible treatment to mother and baby, and to avoid the possibility of losing the baby."

This was the first time that Cahill had delivered a baby gorilla, after years of delivering hundreds of human babies by the same procedure. "Having been involved with the care of these gorillas over the years, with some trepidation and excitement, we were invited to the zoo to assess the wellbeing of Kera, because she was in late pregnancy and showed some signs of being unwell," he said.

"Following our assessment, we considered that Kera might have pre-eclampsia, a condition that humans get, and that the only way to treat it was by delivery. We also thought that the baby in her uterus was showing signs of being very unwell and in need of delivery.

"Along with having my own children, this is probably one of the biggest achievements of my life and something I will certainly never forget.

"I have since been back to visit Kera and the baby gorilla, it was wonderful to see them both doing so well."